At 2.23 a.m. I wake in complete hysterics just like I normally do, and no one else has ever understood it quite like you did. Though the nightmares don’t consist of extraterrestrials anymore and the time differs, I still stretch my arms out to search for you under the covers. But tonight, it’s 2.23am and you’re nowhere to be found.
My stomach drops, my hands shake and my eyes start to water. Curling into a ball helps; like I’m pressing pieces back together and squeezing the pain into one spot instead of twelve. This position would have brought your arms around me but so much has changed between then and tonight.
I sleep with the fan on or the window open now. You needed it to sleep which annoyed me because I always wake up with a sore throat and runny nose. Somewhere between sleep and morning you would grab my hips and pull me in because you knew I would feel like ice. Now I make use of extra blankets. I can’t face turning the fan off or closing the window because I know you would get hot and I guess I’m making this environment perfect incase you ever decide to be with me again. But I loved you more than I was ever annoyed about getting cold and sick.
I hated how my hair or shoulder would end up soaked from your saliva and how your arm would drape over my side, always sitting in the exact spot where it’d hurt. It annoyed me having to constantly move it from that spot through most of the night. You would kiss the back of my neck in my favourite spot, every time without fail. But I loved you more than damp patches and sore ribs ever annoyed me.
I hated how your muscles would twitch violently and excessively as you were falling asleep because it always kept me awake or woke me. You wore quite a few from myself and were light hearted enough not to mind. But I loved you more than getting kicked or hit by a flying arm ever annoyed me.
I hated the sugar and brown circles on the bench that I’d have to clean up after you’d made your cup of tea and left for work each morning. You’d be in such a rush you’d forget to do it yourself, and you’d kiss me quickly and say my favourite words as you ran for the door. But I loved you more than the thought of ants and mice ever annoyed me.
I hated how you thought your tea making skills were better than mine so you always insisted you made my cup before we went to bed. You knew to make mine a few degrees cooler which was proof of your attention and you were mighty proud of it. But I loved you more than never telling you there was way too much sugar in mine ever annoyed me.
I hated you scolding me for never drinking enough water and insisting that that was the cause of my many headaches. I hate that I now drink litres of water a day as some sort of tribute to you and it pisses me off that I sure as hell don’t suffer from as many. But I loved you more than leaving the oversized box of Panadol I always carried with me at home ever annoyed me, because I knew that was more my ego than anything and it meant you cared and were trying to help.
I hated your dirty work clothes on the lounge and I hated vacuuming it constantly. I hated the dirty boot prints through the house especially after I’d cleaned. I hated the smell of the tomato sauce you insisted on putting on everything. When you’d cook us dinner, you kept the sauce right away from mine. But I loved you more than any dirt or smells ever annoyed me.
I hated the temperature you ran the shower and the water droplets hitting my face as they bounced from your shoulders. You always made an effort to keep the spray away from my head. But I loved you more than the threat of heat-induced fainting and how my eyes stung from the water then they ever annoyed me.
I hated fitting so perfectly under your arm that we gave it a name, and that my nook is now my biggest source of pain. It was my place; my safe place and my happy place. You always placed a pillow over your shoulder so I was more comfortable. But I loved you more than the thought of it disappearing one day ever annoyed me.
I don’t dream of being followed, or long thin hands reaching out to me from the shadows anymore. I don’t wake screaming from the sight of little green or grey men and their big black eyes, I don’t panic when I dream they are chasing me.
Instead, I dream of sun-kissed skin and tattoos, I dream of the things I loved more than I could ever have hated. I dream of eyes that change with moods from green to brown and all the hazel shades in between. I dream of weekends by the river competing over who’d caught the most fish and hours spent driving on warm nights down empty roads. I dream of songs and food and other favourite things. I dream of your gaze and the sweet shivers it brought, and how I melted under your fingertips.
I dream of there being another. The notion makes me ill but I dream of it nonetheless. I wish for it harder than I plead with your ghost to leave; “The haunting will burn out, the ghosts will fade”, I tell myself repetitively. They are worse when there is another in your place, when I can feel another’s skin across the sheets from me.
There will be another. There will be another and he will stay and your ghost will leave and take the nightmares with him. I will never have to take another mouthful of alcohol to force your echo into silence. There will be another, and we will love so far beyond belief and so thoroughly that I will forget you ever existed, I promise myself this.
It’s now 3.11 a.m. and I hate that I can’t love or hate anyone as much as you.